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Published: 00:32, January 20, 2022 | Updated: 10:05, January 20, 2022
HK legal professionals should help nation build foreign-related rule of law system
By Edward Liu
Published:00:32, January 20, 2022 Updated:10:05, January 20, 2022 By Edward Liu

The central conference on work related to overall law-based governance held in November 2020 clearly defined the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law in the process of the nation’s overall law-based governance. The major contents and essence of Xi’s Thought were embodied as the “11 adherences” proposed by Xi in this conference, including to uphold plans for promoting both domestic rule of law and foreign-related rule of law.

Xi stressed the importance of upholding plans for promoting rule of law both domestically and in handling foreign-related issues. To do so requires speeding up the strategic layout of foreign-related rule of law works, coordinating and promoting both domestic and international governance, and improving the safeguard of national sovereignty, security and development interests. The “Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century”, adopted by the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, pointed out that overall law-based governance is an essential requirement and an important safeguard to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, and also a profound revolution in national governance. Therefore, when Hong Kong integrates into the country’s development and contributes to the country’s effort to achieve the second-centennial goal, it should proceed from the principle of “one country, two systems” and focus on helping the country to govern according to law and building up the infrastructure of the rule of law in China.

Promoting coordinated development at a national level
The national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) explicitly supports Hong Kong’s drive to establish itself as an international legal and dispute resolution service center in the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong is not only the only jurisdiction in China that implements common law but also the only common law jurisdiction in the world practicing bilingual laws in English and Chinese, and it is a globally recognized arbitration center. Therefore, some would take the support of the central government as granted, while the legal profession would see the country’s support as an opportunity to develop a broader market for legal services. However, it would be a confining definition. If the legal profession in Hong Kong wants to truly unleash its own strength to contribute to the needs of the country, it must appreciate the nation’s view of an overall law-based governance to complement the advantages of the mainland and develop coordinately.

As Hong Kong moves into the center of the world stage along with the country, it will be more important for Hong Kong to help to develop the nation’s foreign-related rule of law, and to contribute its wisdom when the country participates in formulating international laws and regulations

President Xi repeatedly pointed out that the current world is undergoing the most profound and unprecedented changes in a century. An important part of a country’s core competence is the rule of law, while foreign-related rule of law is an important practice when countries participate in international affairs and global governance. In the context of the profound changes of the global governing model and the institutional competition being the most fundamental competition between countries, it would be valuable for Hong Kong to fully exert the unique advantages of “one country, two systems” and assist the country in enhancing its voice and influence in the global rule of law.

In the latest policy address, one of the measures proposed by the HKSAR government was to seek international organizations to come to Hong Kong for decision-making conferences, which is in response to the support of the central government to establish a legal hub in Hong Kong. The Department of Justice has always spared no effort to hold international legal conferences, including hosting the working group meeting of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law to explore mediation reform options for investments, as well as hosting the 59th Annual Session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization to discuss important international law topics. As Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah remarked in a recent article, hosting the annual session of AALCO in Hong Kong not only certifies that Hong Kong has its ability and unique characteristics to attract international organizations to come and hold decision-making conferences, but it also benefits Hong Kong’s drive to develop into a hub for international legal and dispute resolution services.

As more mainland enterprises go global, the resistance and challenges they encounter in expanding overseas interests will also increase, while cross-border disputes and legal issues will appear more frequently and with higher complexity. President Xi pointed out that the response of the rule of law should be at a more prominent position, to speak and rely on the rules, to safeguard the national political and economic security, and to safeguard legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises and citizens. Currently, international trade regulations and contractual agreements generally remain based on common law, while international arbitration and dispute resolution methods are mostly drafted by Western countries. In the process of establishing an international legal and dispute resolution center for the Asia-Pacific region, the legal profession in Hong Kong needs to build up the view and awareness of legal struggle, to apply their adaptive legal thinking and skillful techniques to assist mainland enterprises when they “go global” to effectively prevent and counter the legal risks and challenges, so as to achieve the purpose of safeguarding the national sovereignty, security and development interests.

Training legal talents with a national sense
The decision of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC demanded the establishment of a team comprising foreign-related rule of law elites who know international legal regulations and are good at handling foreign-related legal affairs. The professional talents in Hong Kong need to keep up by enhancing their capacity building and strategic investment, intensifying the theoretical research on global governance, and to attach great importance to training talents in global governance. The legal services industry in Hong Kong has a great advantage as there are numerous talents who have international vision, yet they lack professionals who think with a view of promoting national interests. The Department of Justice recently collaborated with Tsinghua University to launch a course on the basic principles of Chinese law, which is further opened to privately practicing lawyers other than government lawyers only starting from the third phase. This can indisputably cultivate legal talents who possess a strong sense of national identity and are capable of competition externally, in addition to having an international vision and knowing international rules.

When President Xi received the delegation from Hong Kong and Macao to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up, he gave a speech and encouraged Hong Kong and Macao people to be more proactive in participating in national governance. He pointed out that talents in Hong Kong and Macao have many advantages to bring into play in the international community, and there are multiple ways to support the country in participating in global governance. As Hong Kong moves into the center of the world stage along with the country, it will be more important for Hong Kong to help to develop the nation’s foreign-related rule of law, and to contribute its wisdom when the country participates in formulating international laws and regulations.

The author is vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Hua Jing Society, and vice-president of the Hong Kong and Mainland Legal Professionals Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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